WDTN Judge Uses TransUnion Ruling to Grant MTD in FDCPA Case Over Debt Amount

A District Court judge in Tennessee is the latest to use the Supreme Court’s ruling in TransUnion v. Ramirez as grounds to determine that a plaintiff lacked standing to sue a collector for allegedly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because it indicated in a collection letter that additional fees could be added to the balance that was due.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Kale v. ProCollect can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff received a collection letter from the defendant. The letter stated the amount that was owed and included an asterisk next to the amount. At the bottom of the letter, the asterisk referred to the following disclosure:

Your agreement with the original creditor, or other applicable state law, may allow ProCollect to charge collection agency fees. If you have not already been put on notice of any applicable fee, this is your notice that a failure to pay the Amount Due within the applicable deadline set out in the agreement with the original creditor or state law, may result in ProCollect assessing collection agency fees allowed by such agreement or state law.

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the letter violated Sections 1692e(2), 1692e(10), and 1692e(5) along with Sections 1692f and 1692g of the FDCPA because the letter failed to accurately state the amount of the debt.

Even if the violations were “procedural,” the plaintiff claimed they were sufficient enough to support she had standing to pursue her lawsuit. But Judge Samuel Mays, Jr., of the District Court for the Western District of Tennessee saw it differently, especially in the wake of the TransUnion ruling. While concluding that the plaintiff’s allegations were statutory violations of the FDCPA, Judge Mays determined that the plaintiff did not claim to have suffered a “tangible” injury. The plaintiff also relied on a ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that held a risk-of-harm inquiry which yields a procedural violation of the FDCPA constitutes a concrete injury. But that ruling has been modified by TransUnion, Judge Mays determined, ruling that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring her suit.

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